SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Albert Abreu didn't have his best stuff, but made the pitches he needed to make and led Scottsdale to a 2-0 win over Surprise in the Arizona Fall League on Monday.
The Yankees No. 7 prospect threw 38 of his 66 pitches for strikes and cruised through five scoreless innings as Scottsdale snapped its five-game losing streak.
"Albert was good," Scottsdale manager Jay Bell said. "He certainly wasn't at his best, fastball, he got up in the zone a couple times early in the game, but he battles really well with his secondary [pitches] and did a fantastic job."
The 22-year-old didn't strike out a batter, but let his defense do the work as he walked two and gave up six hits.
"Mindset was attack the strike zone, so my first pitch, tried to throw a strike and when was behind in the count, just kept going," Abreu said through translator, Estevan Florial. "… Today, I got a lot of ground balls and that helped me."
Not only did Abreu get six ground-ball outs, but he also showed off a tremendous pickoff move, picking off a pair of runners in the first three innings, to help keep Surprise off the basepaths.
"He's a good athlete," Bell said. "He does a lot of good things out there on the mound and he's exciting to watch."
Abreu spent the bulk of the regular season on the disabled list and totaled just 53 1/3 innings across three levels this season. Making up for lost time in the AFL, the hard-throwing right-hander has impressed.
Abreu has a 2.60 ERA and has given up one earned run or less in four of his six starts.
"He's a guy that we are extremely fond of in the organization," Bell said. "He's handled himself really well out on the mound. He's getting better with his mound presence and he's going to be fun to watch for a lot of years."
While Abreu was putting up zeros, his counterpart, Burch Smith (Rays) was piling up strikeouts.
Smith was struck with the loss, but struck out nine and allowed one hit in four innings for Surprise. Smith, who has struck out 21 and hasn't given up a run over his past 16 innings (four starts) gave up two runs on one hit and threw 37 of his 55 pitches for strikes.
The right-hander cruised through the bulk of his start, but ran into a bit of trouble in the second as Yankees No. 17 prospect Thairo Estrada drove in the first run of the game with an RBI triple and then scored on a sac fly from Kevin Kaczmarski (Mets).
And as it turned out, those two runs were all Scottsdale and Abreu needed.
"I think he's gotten better and better as the year's progressed and I think, again, for me, it's not stuff, it's not ability at all," Bell said of Abreu. "It's about his mound presence and what he does out there and how he handles himself when he has a little bit of adversity."
William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.